Genres: Drama, Romance, Music, Shounen
"The curveball that was chapter 37 divided the fanbase, but most can argue that it made Fuuka memorable."
Fuuka was an incredibly different yet refreshing sequel to Seo's Suzuka, and it bore both positive and negative aspects worth diving into. It's an extremely polarizing manga - especially once you hit chapter 37 and digest its events. Whether you can accept the full plot or not, from beginning to end, will affect your outlook on this manga. That being said, do I recommend you give this a shot, especially if you've read Suzuka? Absolutely - get ready for another wild ride and a tear-inducing story.
Story Rating - 8/10
Set as a direct sequel to Suzuka, Fuuka is refreshing in that the story revolves around the struggles of making it big in Japan's music industry as a rock band. I thought this was a highly successful manga from a musical angle - many aspects were talked about, and music was always the main focal point of this manga. I though it was cool how Seo focused on sports within Suzuka, and now focused on music in Fuuka! There are multiple arcs (expected given the territory this manga covered), which means multiple new characters introduced every arc. There are various plot elements which are questionable, while some being fantastically incorporated. From a broad standpoint, the story flows well linearly and has its various dramatic moments or obstacles. I personally think the right amount of obstacles were added to make our characters grow and for the plot to progress further.
As mentioned above, after chapter 37, readers began dropping this manga left and right. However, I will say this: for those who continued reading (including myself), the plot got better and better - and I was finally able to accept everything that had happened and be satisfied with the ending.
Overall, despite the inconsistencies or odd patterns of drama vs. slice of life vs. happy arcs, which caused the plot to progress non-linearly, I can't deny that at the chapter level, the details were spectacular and the cliffhangers were great, if not critical.
Art Rating - 10/10
With every Seo manga I read, the more impressed with his art I get. Fuuka incorporates the same artistic styles, facial expressions, character designs and elements from Seo's previous works like Suzuka and KNIM, but with higher quality, beautiful backdrops/panels, and an amazing adaptation towards what readers would expect from a music manga.
Characters Rating - 8/10
Similar to past Seo Kouji works, characters tend to leave readers with lasting questions which are either unanswered or answered poorly. However, I thought this time around within Fuuka, this was done just fine. I felt like I got to look into most of our main characters' hearts a bit more to understand their motivations and their feelings, which got me even more attached to the plot. Granted, I still had my moments of confusion (such as wanting to learn more about why The Fallen Moon's members decided to get back together so quickly after Yuu reached out to them on a whim).
Overall Enjoyment Rating - 8/10
I was really close to giving this who manga a 9 alongside an enjoyment rating of 9, but there were a few things that pulled me back:
1. Some really weird misunderstandings. As a common pattern found in Seo's stories, very coincidental and odd misunderstandings are used to drive the story-telling and plot progression and to obviously cause/force drama. The ones in here were either too cliche, or just felt forced.
2. Hinashi Koyuki's character. The motivation and reasoning for her actions were there for most of the story, but then her importance to the plot became more inconsistent as the story went on. Near the latter half and the end, it felt like she had to be given an abrupt closure despite the role she played in the plot earlier in the story.
3. The ending. Don't get me wrong - it was satisfying, but many of us readers read Fuuka for the romantic aspects. I wanted a full closure (with details) on what our main couple within the story end up as, or even just one final embrace. The story really did focus mainly on the musical aspect, especially the band, up until the very, very end.
4. I just have to say it: after Seo threw the initial curve ball in chapter 37, I was shaken as much as the rest of the fanbase. Without diving into spoilers, I simply feel like there was so much more he could've done. There were definitely options to be creative. Read the manga to understand what I'm saying.
I finally understand now, Nico: why you entrusted this song... to Yuu Haruna. You were too embarrassed to put the feeling into words yourself, along with the dreams they once shared... with that girl.
Overall, however, I'm pleased with the direction the plot took, and I was quite glued to this manga (although not as much as I was to KNIM). I hope Seo can get back to writing romance dramas again soon!